FAQ: Biking during shelter in place

Shelter in Place

On March 17, San Francisco’s “shelter in place” order took hold, which was followed by a similar statewide order beginning on March 20. These extreme measures were taken as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread rapidly throughout California and beyond.

As the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, we want to make sure we are providing you accurate, up-to-date information about what this means for bicycling in San Francisco. As the situation evolves, we will strive to keep this information correct.

As the shelter-in-place order extended through May, it became clear to us Bike to Work Day, set to take place on May 14, was going to be postponed. Nevertheless, May is bike month, and we’re celebrating (virtually!) all month long. Head to: https://sfbike.org/bike-month/, to RSVP for one of our many bikey events.

Am I allowed to ride a bicycle right now?

Yes, but you can only bike for essential travel (e.g. going to work or buying groceries) and for recreation as long as you practice proper social distancing. The he shelter-in-place public health order limits all travel, no matter the mode, to essential trips. 

A spokesperson for Mayor London Breed further stated that “people should exercise for mental and physical health, but they should maintain social distance of at least six feet from others and not do it in a group.” Therefore, you’ll have to cancel your group rides until the shelter in place order has been lifted, but you can still continue to bike if you responsibly distance yourself from others.

Do I need to wear a mask when I’m outside biking, and if so, when?

On April 3, Bay Area public health officials recommended people wear masks to cover their faces while outdoors and in public. A variety of masks and cloth coverings such as bandanas and scarves can be worn safely while biking. Covering noses and mouths with cloth will help to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but is not a substitute for social distancing. Staying home and washing your hands are still the most important and effective ways to prevent the spread of the virus. Additionally, medical-grade masks, like N95s, are in short supply and need to be reserved for health care workers and first responders. 

Biking with masks for families has its own special set of challenges. Check out this helpful guide from the Department of Public Health for how to make sure your young ones are biking safely.

May 28: The SF Department of Public Health has added details to when and where face coverings are required as part of the city’s reopening plan. Face coverings are not required for “exercising outdoors alone or with people who live with you.” However, make sure to always carry a face covering with you if you are outside and use it when you come within 30 feet of someone else. Read the full details here.

Where can I park my bike if I’m getting tested at a CityTestSF site?

You don’t have to lock your bike up anywhere, because you’re allowed to walk with your bike into the testing area and keep it with you while being tested. Check out the testing sites here.

Are bike shops in San Francisco open for repair or maintenance?

Yes. Bike repair is considered an “essential service” by the San Francisco City Attorney’s office, which means that bike shops are allowed to remain open for repair and maintenance services. 

Here are the bike shops that we know are currently open:

We will continue to update this list as we get in touch with more bike shops.

What’s happening with bike share and scooter share? 

Bay Wheels will continue to operate their bike share system during shelter in place and provided this update with more information. Update: Bay Wheels is offering free membership for healthcare workers. Learn more here.

Lime announced that they will be temporarily suspending their scooter share service during this time.

Scoot announced that they will be temporarily suspending their scooter share service during this time.

Spin announced that they will continue to operate their scooter share system during this time but will closely monitor the situation. Update: Spin is providing free 30 minute rides for all individuals who work at healthcare facilities in the cities the operate in: San Francisco, Baltimore, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Tampa, and Washington D.C. Eligibility is open to anyone working in healthcare, including but not limited to doctors, nurses, medical assistants, radiology and lab technicians, hospital and clinic administrators, and janitorial staff. To get the discount activated, eligible employees fill out this form, available on our website.

I don’t have a bike – how can I get my hands on one?

  • Consider bikeshare: Bay Wheels has expanded their service to reach more of San Francisco.
  • Bike Match: The SF Bicycle Coalition has partnered with board members Stephen Braitsch to launch Bike Match in SF. This program connects people in SF who have a bike in good working order that they can permanently part with to people who currently face transportation challenges due to reduced transit service and other health precautions. If you have a bike to donate or need a bike, please go here.

It’s been a long time since I biked. Can you remind me what I need to know to bike safely on the roads?

Yes! Check out our recent blog: “Five Things You Need to Know to Get Back into Biking” and our online resources and classes.

I want to start taking my family out for rides. Where’s a good place to bike with kids?

Check out our Guide to Car-Free Spaces for Biking Families!

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